UNISON Labour Link Forum took place this year in Bristol earlier this month. This is the national meeting of UNISON delegates from regions and Self Organised Groups who support our constitutional link with the Labour Party via the Labour Link (also known as the APF) political fund.
This is a motion based conference which had some great debates on policy. There was also workshops and a number of high profile speakers including Jon Cruddas MP, Head of Labour's policy review; Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Minister for London Sadiq Khan MP and our General Secretary, Dave Prentis. There was a UK Parliamentary panel of Labour MPs and a European Parliament panel of MEPS.
Jon Cruddas MP told us that Labour in power would stop the abuse of zero hour contracts and that of agency workers, increase the minimum wage and make greater use of a Living Wage. It would repeal the Lobby Act, have fair taxes and build new homes. Extend free child care, make private providers of public services liable to freedom of information obligations and use procurement to help decide wages. The recent announcements on Labour plans for Councils and regions is the biggest devolution of power in 100 years.
Our UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, spoke that what we want is a Labour Party committed to tackle child and pensioner poverty. We want a Party committed to build an NHS that Nye Bevan would be proud of. We do not want Labour Councils just being vehicles for putting out contracts.
We need and now must get alternative policies not alternative spelling. We expect Labour to support us over Pay. Opposition means opposing. We want no weasel words. We want our demands to be heard. We want clear commitments. Cameron and Tories do not stand for our class. We must get rid of them. Our one objective is to kick the Tories out and get a Labour Government elected not just for 5 years but 15 years.
Sadiq Khan MP introduced himself as the son of a bus driver, whose sister is a teacher and brother works in the NHS. He salutes our public services. Public institutions hold our society together.
He attacked the new huge fees on Employment tribunal applications which is depriving rank and file workers of justice. He argued we must stand firm on further attacks on access to justice.
He praised Ed Miliband's plan to devolve power and money away from the centre and empower our great cities and councils. Sadiq promised not to sign any contracts for privatisation which are on his desk as Justice Minister in 2015 and his first task will be how to unpick existing contracts.
In the UK Parliamentary panel local Bristol MPs attacked the Executive Mayor model in Bristol as being undemocratic and unaccountable. It was hoped that after the recent announcement by Ed Miliband on decentralisation of power that the whole executive mayoral system will need to be looked at. In the European MEP debate there was a positive discussion on combating UKIP and stopping the race to the bottom in employment rights.
There is now less than 10 months to get rid of Cameron and his Tories. UNISON Labour Link must now do everything it can to elect a Labour Government in 2015 but also make sure that the Party has the progressive election winning policies that will help us to deliver the Labour vote.
This weekend it is the Labour Party’s national policy forum in Milton Keynes. UNISON is launching its manifesto for public services this week, ready to present to the Party. These are the type of policies that will not only protect public services but win elections.